Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker
U.S. Senator

Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker (b. Jul. 29, 1932) represented the state of Kansas in the United States Senate from 1978 to 1997. She is the daughter of Alfred M. Landon, who was the Governor of Kansas from 1933 to 1937 and the 1936 Republican candidate for presiden and was born in Topeka, Kansast. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 1954 where she was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She received her graduate degree from the University of Michigan in 1956.


Baker, who went by Nancy Landon Kassebaum while serving in the Senate, was the first woman to serve in the Senate having neither been elected to serve first in the House of Representatives nor having been appointed to fill out the remainder of a term from a husband after his death while in office. She was also the first woman to represent Kansas in the Senate.

She defeated eight other Republicans in the 1978 primary elections to replace retiring Republican Jim Pearson and then defeated former Democratic Congressman Dr. Bill Roy (who lost his election bid to Kansas' senior senator, Bob Dole, in 1974) in the general election. She was re-elected to her Senate seat in 1984 and 1990, but did not seek re-election in 1996.

Kassebaum, a moderate to liberal Republican, has often been noted for her health care legislation co-sponsored by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, a Democrat. Since 1996 she has been married to former U.S. Senator Howard Baker Jr. Kassebaum's son Bill Kassebaum was a member of the Kansas legislature.

Additional Biographical Information
Kassebaum, Nancy Landon (1932- ), United States senator (1978- ) representing Kansas. She was born Nancy Landon in Topeka, Kansas, the daughter of Alfred M. Landon, the governor of Kansas (1932-1937) and the Republican presidential candidate in 1936. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 1954 with a degree in political science. In 1956 she earned a master's degree in diplomatic history from the University of Michigan.

Before becoming a senator, Kassebaum served as vice president of a family-owned firm that operated two radio stations. She was a member of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Committee and the Kansas Committee on the Humanities. She won election to the school board in her hometown of Maize, Kansas, and served as the board president. In 1975 Kassebaum went to Washington, D.C., to work on the staff of Republican Senator James B. Pearson of Kansas. When Pearson announced his retirement in 1978, Kassebaum became one of nine Republicans seeking the party's nomination.

She won the primary and went on to defeat Bill Roy, a former Democratic congressman, in the general election. She was the only woman in the Senate at the time of her election. Kassebaum was reelected to the Senate in 1984 and 1990. When the Republicans secured a Senate majority after the 1980 election, Kassebaum became a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. In the Senate, she earned a reputation for building coalitions and for pragmatic positions on policy. She supported the Equal Rights Amendment and the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty.

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